Recommended listening

This recording of Handel’s Chandos Anthems, the complete set, is a delight. The players are The Sixteen Choir and Orchestra, conducted by Harry Christophers. The delight is partly found in the historically accurate stripped down choir and orchestra, reflecting the original historical setting at Cannons, the ancestral home of the Duke of Chandos for whom the anthems were composed. The orchestra is strings without viola, one oboe, one bassoon, and two recorders. The choir includes Lynne Dawson (soprano), Patrizia Kwella (soprano), James Bowman (alto), Ian Partridge (tenor), and Michael George (bass). The orchestra includes Julie Miller (violin), David Woodcock (violin), William Thorp (violin), Valerie Darke (oboe), Sophia McKenna (oboe). Unfortunately the notes do not include a full listing of the players.

This performance is superb. It is not flashy, not tampered with, not “jazzed up.” It is noble, stately, and simply beautiful, as Handel simply is. The anthem texts were chosen by Handel from the Book of Common Prayer, 1662 edition. The notes mention the reuses and reworkings of various themes in Handel’s earlier compositions, but I’m not famiiar enough with these to comment upon them. They’re simply a wonderful and wondrous set of beautiful and soothing music to listen to, or, to have running along in the background while doing dukely or lesser things.

Listening to this recording makes me want to reach for some wig powder. Highly recommended.


  1. Thanks for this recommendation. My wife recently performed on violin in a local production of Haydn’s Creation, sort of a German homage to Handel featuring choruses heavily indebted lyrically to Milton.

    You know, Fr Damascene told me that Fr Seraphim (Rose) considered Handel the greatest composer.

    1. Beethoven’s 5th Piano Concerto (particularly this magnificent recording of Karajan with Weissenberg, which I grew up with) is perfection, for me. The enjoyment of Handel is contagious, though. It’s great fun to have a truly great composer using English lyrics. There really aren’t any others of the same caliber.

  2. If it’s performed by Harry Christophers and the Sixteen then it goes without saying that it should be bought and savored.

  3. You should download their album “Icon,” which has an absolutely beautiful performance of Tavener’s “Song for Athene.” It also has some Arvo Part, which I personally enjoy.

  4. Oh, yes! I have Pärt’s Te Deum and Passio. I’m not a big fan of Tavener, though, admittedly.

    I’ll take a look at (a listen to?) Icon. I’m thinking of starting a Sixteen collection.

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